University of Limerick Bill, 1989: Second Stage (Resumed).

Thursday, 1 June 1989

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 122 No. 21

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Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time”.

Mr. Kennedy: Information on Patrick Kennedy Zoom on Patrick Kennedy It is, of course, of particular interest to recall today that on 4 October 1985 the then Minister for Education, Deputy Gemma Hussey, in the course of a statement made in Limerick said:

I know that the NIHE in Limerick, together with its Dublin counterpart have established themselves amongst the finest third level institutions in this country. Their reputation, both at home and abroad stands high and their graduates are widely respected.

It was indeed Deputy Gemma Hussey who announced the Government initiative to appoint an internal study group to advise on the future of NIHE Limerick and NIHE Dublin.

[2227] The unambiguous findings of that international study group have clearly established that both NIHE Limerick and NIHE Dublin operate very effectively at university level and fully justify the conferring of university status upon them, and that it would be more appropriate to establish each NIHE as an independent university with the power to award their own degrees and to perform the normal functions of a university.

Of particular significance at this time in the context of 1992 and thereafter, is the department of European Integration and Administration headed by Professor Ellis. The name and activities of this Department reflect the new emphasis being placed on European political and economic development and the aim of creating a Single European Market by 1992. A masters degree course on European Integration has been approved by the academic council and has been submitted to the European Commission under the Erasmus scheme for inter-city agreement. Under this proposal, it will be possible for students to spend the third term of their MA degree course in residence in one of four selected campuses in the United Kingdom, Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Of course, we have the international linkages with Limerick which continue to grow with universities, industry and business organisations. Many of these linkages are stimulated by the European Community programmes. For example, the University of Limerick, the University of Sussex and the University of Trent are linked under the Comett Programme, and special agreement has been signed with Cornell University — the largest of the Ivy League universities, and with the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Finally, it has been truly said that one of the surest indicators of a community's quality of life is the quality of its educational opportunity. I have no doubt that the setting up of these two new independent universities will convey to the international community Ireland's [2228] seriousness about industrial development. It will serve to emphasise the importance which Ireland attaches to excellence in learning and will highlight the capability and calibre of our higher education sector.

I warmly welcome the introduction of this legislation. I wish these two new universities and their presidents, Dr. Edward Walsh and Dr. Danny O'Hare, every success and congratulations for the years ahead.

Professor Eogan: Information on George Eogan Zoom on George Eogan For higher education, we are certainly living in vibrant times at present. The establishment of one university is indeed an occasion to rejoice but for two, a very special celebration is called for. The bringing into existence of these two new universities is a very definite recognition by the Government of the significance they attach to higher education and the important role that higher education can play in developing and improving the lifestyles of all of us, either directly or indirectly, as well as the wider contributions that the universities can make to the wellbeing of the country.

It is, indeed, important that higher education be made as readily available as possible to those who wish to benefit from it. It should not be considered as something rarefied or elitist, but as an integral part of education as a whole. From the times of the early monasteries and the monastic schools — as the Minister has already pointed out in her introductory speech — Irish people have valued education, and it is interesting that during difficult times, such as the period of the Penal Laws, education was one of the items that was hindered.

Since the foundation of the State, Governments have made valiant efforts to improve the system. With regard to third level education, there has been considerable innovation since the sixties. Part of this was occasioned by the realisation that it was essential to improve the level of technological training so as to increase the number of qualified persons. The main aim was to contribute to Ireland's industrial expansion which was [2229] in danger of remaining in the doldrums due to lack of trained personnel.

The establishment of the National Institute for Higher Education in Limerick and the national network of regional technological colleges in the early seventies represented a firm commitment on the part of the Government to make higher technical education of the highest standard available in areas, some of which were remote from existing centres of education.

The Government's decision at that time was challenged on both economic and educational grounds. However, the success of these colleges is now generally recognised both nationally and internationally, their graduates are obtaining employment in industry and in the professions, and their student places are highly sought after. NIHE, Dublin, more recently instituted, is already establishing themselves as a place of important studies. NIHE, Dublin, has a high reputation in the areas in which it has chosen to specialise and is achieving international recognition as a centre of academic excellence.

In the general scheme of developments, the NIHEs could be considered complementary to universities, but the Bills before the House today are to enable the status of the national institutes to be enhanced by becoming universities. An Act of the Oireachtas may create a university, but really it is the university that makes itself. A change of name will not necessarily alter the resources available, courses provided or real rather than formal status for those institutions. As the Minister also pointed out in her opening address, the term “university” may mean different things to different people but in general one can say that a university should be a place of higher learning that has power to grant degrees and a body of teachers and students as well, of course, as a physical element. In this day and age with the growth and development of subjects it may not be possible to consider, as Cardinal Newman could in the middle of the last century, university as a place of universal learning but even if [2230] one cannot, that concept must surely be maintained.

While both the Dublin and Limerick institutes have done excellent work, the courses they offer are limited in subject choice. The emphasis is very much on the applied aspect of the subjects. The art subjects are almost non-existent and that is a major omission in a university. Other Senators have referred to the question of the Irish language. From inquiries I have made, I could find no evidence that Irish is taught as a degree subject. I find this extraordinary in view of the fact that it is our first language.

In this connection, I assume that the new universities, as is the case with the established ones, will receive funds from the Higher Education Authority. It is therefore relevant to draw attention to the fact that the HEA have a general duty with respect to national aims. Section 4 of the Higher Education Authority Act, 1971, states:

In performing its functions, An tÚdarás shall bear constantly in mind the national aims of restoring the Irish language and preserving and developing the national culture and shall endeavour to promote the attainment of those aims.

I hope, therefore, that these new universities and the HEA will take due cognisance of section 4 and thereby ensure that it will contribute in practical terms to the preservation and development of our national culture and the attainment of the national aims of restoring the Irish language.

However, I am glad to see that the Bill provides that one of the functions of the universities shall be to provide courses of study or instruction in such fields as the governing bodies may deem appropriate. In view of what I have already said, I therefore trust, on educational as well as other grounds, that as a matter of urgency the governing bodies of both universities, when they come into existence, will initiate degree courses in the Irish language and literature and indeed that before long a wider range of subjects dealing with Irish civilisation will be [2231] included. I am not saying that for the purpose of replacing existing courses but simply because I believe there are very sound educational reasons for so doing. In short, a university without a cultural dimension is incomplete.

Courses that have been offered in the institutes — for instance, applied language courses — lack, as far as I can determine, a broad cultural aspect but I hope these problems will be overcome. The solution depends on society as a whole making the necessary investment in higher education and the universities themselves having the courage to provide a pattern of teaching and research activities designed not merely to satisfy narrow demands or attempts to provide solutions to immediate economic technical problems, though such cannot be neglected, but as a means of access for our young people to the wider culture of the humanities, languages and arts, without which education is restricted in scope and our national culture impoverished.

We need the engineers, designers, accountants and marketing experts which our universities and national institutes of higher education are producing, but we also need a contact between these disciplines and the humanities so that a greater awareness of environmental and cultural factors will be available to decision-makers of the future. A traditional university environment stimulates this activity. Let us hope that our new universities will be provided with greater resources in the humanities so that they too can fulfil a similar role.

I, like other Senators, feel very optimistic about our new universities. I believe they will develop and grow in strength. Nevertheless, I must say that the comparative position in other places can be a cause of worry. To see this happening we have only to go a short distance up the road — just 100 miles or so. In Belfast the distinguished Queen's University is being run down but simultaneously developments are taking place within the New University of Ulster which is situated in Coleraine and also at other centres. To me this is a sort of [2232] contradictory system. It is a robbing Peter to pay Paul attitude and that is to be deplored. Again, in other countries, especially in Britain, there is evidence of the establishment of several new universities about 30 years ago. There was a great period of creating universities in Britain then and virtually every town had to have its university, but now, 20 or 30 years later, what is the position? Some of these new universities, and also the older ones, are now virtually starved of funding and in many cases departments are being closed down.

In establishing new universities we must realise that universities, like other enterprises, cost money. Although the Irish universities have a tradition of making do with much less funding, whether it be public or private, than many of their counterparts abroad, nevertheless in order to make then viable places, courses, academic standing and so on has to be maintained. In order to play a proper and beneficial role in society, and taking into account the overall problem of national finances, financial stability within reason must be ensured. Some of this funding will come from student fees and more from external grants and sponsorship by individuals or industry. I think in this country, whether we agree or disagree, if these universities are to be viable places, the bulk of the funding will, of necessity, have to be provided by the State.

In looking through both Bills I am particularly glad that research is given its rightful place. Indeed, it is well integrated into the overall functions of the new universities. Research and the pursuit of learning and the advancement of knowledge is central to university development. A university that is solely a teaching establishment is not a university at all. Universities must pursue knowledge, but they must also create it. Otherwise their role is devalued and they can be consigned to a much more peripheral role, that is places that simply receive knowledge but do not contribute to the emergence of new knowledge.

It is essential and vital that the universities of Ireland are not only facilitated [2233] but their staff positively encouraged to play a key role in research. Incidentally, I was recently told by an Irish physicist currently working in Germany that some industries there spend more on research than does the average Irish university. The results of research, in other words the creation of new knowledge which can benefit society as a whole, is a major contributing factor to the high living standards, the economic success and the financial stability which is a characteristic feature of West Germany today. Surely this is a precedent which at least in part we can follow with advantage.

I have been trying to find out how extensively the other Acts, especially the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, Act of 1980, refer to such matters as the appointment of staff and so on. Certainly I got the impression that these two universities will not be independent as such in the appointment of staff, especially academic staff, but that this will be subject to the Minister. This to me is quite new with regard to appointments in universities in western Europe at least. If my interpretation is correct I consider this rather unnecessary and, if I may say so, it could lead to undue State influence in matters of university appointment. Surely the State has enough to do rather than getting involved in who may be the best person for a particular job? I hope that would not now become something of normal acceptance. It is important that universities be given independence. Furthermore, it is very important that universities be trusted to carry out their duties in a proper way.

The Minister rightly referred to the NCEA. This body have indeed been doing a good job and it was that council who heretofore validated NIHE awards. Of course, the NCEA is now losing this role and as a result it is vital that every effort be made to ensure their continued acceptability as an award-making body as they will continue to validate the RTCs and related collegiate awards.

In this regard I would like to make another point. At present NCEA regulations facilitate transfer from RTCs to the NIHEs of suitable students which [2234] enables them to obtain enhanced qualifications. I hope the continued existence of such facilities can be safeguarded, assuming, of course, that the students possess the necessary qualifications.

I have mentioned the centuries-old commitment to education which is a feature of Ireland. Not only had we large centres of learning away back in the early Christian times — I am sure the Minister of State, for instance, knows Clonard quite well; he passes it on his way westward — but places like Clonard numbered among its scholars and students several thousand persons. Incidentally, and relevant to modern developments in university education, it was these monks and scholars of early Ireland who spread learning to many parts of Europe in what was the dark ages.

Therefore, Ireland going into Europe, which we have heard a great deal about in recent years, did not start with the Common Market. The older tradition of learning not only for home consumption but even for consumption abroad is something we must value. This was so clearly set out by An Cardinéil Tomás O Fiaich in his wonderful book “Gael Scrínte san Eoraip” which highlights the important role Irish scholarship played in uplifting Europe out of a sort of semi-barbaric stage and moving it on to a stage of higher civilisation.

Mr. Cassidy: Information on Donie Cassidy Zoom on Donie Cassidy Hear, hear.

Professor Eogan: Information on George Eogan Zoom on George Eogan This is what our current universities, whether the established ones or new ones, should be doing.

Speakers have referred to the ERASMUS programme and so on. The exchange of students is most valuable and it, too, should play an important part in the development of modern educational systems in this country. However, again we had not just to wait for recent years to bring these sorts of exchanges into being. The mobility of students has been something the Irish universities have always valued and they always have tried to do something about it. In this connection, I may mention the travelling studentships of the NUI.

[2235] To return briefly to modern times, the establishment of these two universities will, I hope, be of major importance for the country as a whole. There is one other institute I would mention incidentally in this connection as it has not been mentioned heretofore, that is the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. This was brought about as a result of an incredible innovative development initiated by the then Taoiseach Mr. de Valera. It was also established in the early forties which was a very dark period. The establishment of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies could also in its time be looked at as a vote of confidence in the future, in the same way as the present universities can be considered as marking confidence in a future which will be to the benefit of all of us.

It is in this context of confidence in the future that I view the establishment of the new universities. In bringing them about, I sincerely wish to congratulate the Minister and the Minister of State and wish them well in their work for Irish education. I hope this event, significant as it is, is only a beginning that will lead to further meaningful developments in higher education. That does not mean taking over universities by the State — that is a totally different thing — and interfering in appointments, but it will include stability to enable the universities to grow and educate, to advance learning as a vital component of our educational system as a whole.

In conclusion, I wish to extend my hearty congratulations and good wishes to what really makes a university, that is, the staff and the students. They are to be complimented in both Limerick and Dublin. In complimenting the staff and students of the new universities, perhaps I may also give a pat on the back partly to myself by saying we also have to compliment the established universities and the established centres of learning who, during some very difficult times, tried to keep the flag flying and ensured that Irish students were given a high training and that Irish research was kept abreast of, and indeed was better in some cases than [2236] other research carried out abroad. In this context I welcome very much the establishment of these two universities and again I congratulate the Minister.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan Tá cuid mhaith le rá agam faoin dá ollscoil nua atá le bunú nó le leathnú amach as an reachtaíocht atá os ár gcomhair inniu. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis na húdaráis san dá institiúid atá, mar a déarfá, fásta suas agus atá a ligean amach chun saol neamhspleách dá gcuid féin a bheith acu.

I wish these new universities well, but I have to talk about this from my own perspective. I am an academic in the less fashionable area of third level education. While I know from my own dealings with these two institutions that it is not intentional, very often the well meaning case which has been made for giving them university status reflects quite poorly on the work of the regional technical colleges in particular and to a certain extent on the Dublin Institute of Technology. The RTCs are not universities and they have no aspiration to be such, but we have a considerable body of knowledge which challenges some of the assumptions which have underlain the campaign to have these two institutions recognised as universities.

I teach on a degree course in chemical engineering which is internationally recognised. We have not run into any insuperable problem with regard to employment, research access or international recognition for our graduates. It may sound strange coming from me of all people but the final test of any professional course is the marketplace. I know these two institutions have been successful in the marketplace. I know also that the other areas of non-university education have been successful in the marketplace. It probably needs to be said that both the NIHEs and the RTCs have needed less nudging and pushing from the State than the established universities in recognising that there is a market out there, that there is a national role of development and that there is a need to identify and respond to market needs. [2237] The NIHEs and the RTCs have contributed to a development of a perception of education which is not a replacement of education by training but which holds that part of the function of an education is to respond to market needs. I will come back again to what market needs are. They can often be excessively delimited in a very simplistic way which can result in a perception of the function of third level education as being to provide specific training to enable people to do a specific job. That is not the way the world will be in the future.

I am a graduate of UCD and quite proud of that institution, but the established universities have sometimes a slightly árdnósach notion of their status in society. They are important institutes of higher education and have contributed a considerable amount but it appears that they want to have the best of both worlds. To a certain extent Senator Eoghan raised this point. They want extensive amounts of public funding to be used to keep them moving but they also want to retain the ethos of a private institution. This is also true of a considerable number of hospitals which apparently believe they are entitled to large scale public funding but equally large scale public inability to have a say in how they operate. We need openness in all these areas. It is not a matter of whether the State should interfere. Interference, control, regulation or attempts to determine priorities by any institution which is funded by the State should be subject to public accountability and scrutiny and need public justification.

One of my consistent concerns is the excessive secrecy in the way the public service, bureaucracy and Government operate. Many of the concerns about what State interference could mean for a university are much more to do with quiet and private interference. I do not mean corruption but the sort of nudges and hints that are never subject to public debate but which can often be used to influence university appointments. I am often amazed by the spectacle of the extraordinarily intensive canvassing for university appointments. Whatever may [2238] be said about the nature of appointments in the system where I operate, which is often condemned for being excessively politicised, I do not believe any candidate for appointment to an academic position in a regional technical college who conducted the sort of extensive personalised lobbies that go on for university appointments would even be deemed eligible for interview. That level of canvassing would disqualify a person. The universities, as well as other bodies, have an obligation to put their own houses in order. The high level of lobbying for some university appointments that generates considerable mileage in the back pages of some of our newspapers is not a very edifying spectacle or a very good indication of the academic excellence and detachment that is supposed to characterise universities. I would hope that such lobbying would be excluded either by law or by regulation from appointments to the two new universities and also from the process of appointment in existing universities. It does not contribute to the image of the universities and it ought to cease if the universities wish to retain the perception of independance which they value and which is extremely important.

I do not share the old liberal view that State involvement necessarily involves restriction on freedom. This is a classic old chestnut which is articulated by some people, especially by an individual who is well known for his articulation of a consistently free market position about everything, including education. Proper regulation and proper openness can facilitate considerable freedom within the area of State control. I, as an academic within the State sector of education, have never yet found anybody attempting to inhibit me from saying anything I wish on any subject simply because I am an employee in the State sector. I do not subscribe to the view that there is an all embracing, big brother State about to swallow institutions simply because we believe that those who are funded heavily by the State have a duty to respond to the needs of the community as perceived in its political institutions.

[2239] Why a university? What is it that creates this mystique that somehow it is wonderful to be made a university? I think of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Caltech, the California Institute of Technology, or the poly-techniques in the United Kingdom or the Imperial College in London which do not have the word “university” in their title. Are we in danger of funnelling ourselves into a very traditional view of what makes excellence in third level education by believing that there is this one word which creates a standard? If we are really looking to the future and developing certain qualities in our educated workforce which are necessary to meet the almost becliquéd challenge of 1992, do we want to have one definition of what represents the upper plateau of achievement in third level education? I do not think we should and I do not think we do.

I am disappointed that the two very distinguished institutions which have contributed an enormous amount to innovation in Irish third level education, for reasons that I will go into later on, should believe that the only acceptable term that will define their status is the almost elitist term “university”. There are other terms, other titles, which define excellence very well and which should have been considered. Nevertheless I would not, for a second, dream of opposing this Bill. I have reservations about the perception that universities are something unique. I, for one, have no perception that there is an inherent reason academic standards, research standards, international acceptance, employment opportunity etc., are somehow going to be different because we put the word “university” into the title of an institution.

I appreciate that from the time of the setting up of the NCEA, universities have been defined as the criteria of excellence for all NCEA awards, particularly degree awards. I was not happy with that then. I believe that the market is the place to judge it. It is important to remember — and I am sure the Minister of State can confirm this at some stage — that the [2240] word “university” in the United States in particular does not give any guarantee of excellence, and there are a considerable number of universities in the United States of America whose graduates would not be recognised by the Minister's Department if they applied for posts in either second or third level education in the public sector here because these institutions are not recognised as universities which have met a standard of excellence. If we are to look at the wider world it is important to remember that there are universities in the United States whose standards are not just not great but which are abysmally and appallingly low, and that there is a huge spectrum of performance within the university sector in the United States of America, and that the Department of Education is intimately aware in terms of assessing the equivalence of qualifications, of the difficulty of being sure that a degree from a university in the United States means the same thing as a degree from a university perhaps in this country or the United Kingdom. We should not be convinced that university automatically means extraordinarily high standards. There are other criteria, the best of which is the market place.

In that context, while I know this is not intended, that it is not deliberate the fact that the National Council for Educational Awards will no longer be making awards in two of our major third level institutions, the fact that it does not make such awards for the Dublin Institute of Technology in most cases, will effectively result in some downgrading of the status of the NCEA. It is as if everybody is going to rise up through this process and then when they reach a certain critical mass, escape from the National Council for Education Awards, and it will become a step on the road to real status as a third level institution. That of course will make it very difficult to get the public at large to accept the fact that, for instance, degree courses in third level institutions which are under the aegis of the National Council for Educational Awards are really the same as degree courses from other institutions. It may, or it may not; but it seems [2241] to me that it will create a problem which only the market place can determine.

Having said that, I think there are philosophical issues in this debate which deserve to be talked about a little. We need to remember first that universities are places of education and so is the whole of third level education — and education for what? It is all too easy to see it as education to do a specific job; but it is important to remember there is no such thing any more as a specific job, that the pace of change in the whole of industry, in services etc. is that in fact what we really should be educating people for is actually to accommodate themselves to the extraordinary pace of change that is going to take place. One cannot train people today for jobs that may not exist in five years time because we do not know what is going to happen. Things are changing so rapidly. It is necessary, obviously, to build in a basic groundwork of theory and of practice in any professional area but we ought to be dealing also with much deeper questions like problem solving ability, not how to do the problems that we have traditionally set people in technological courses. We need to teach how to approach a totally new problem that one has never seen before. There is an increasing amount of literature on this issue. I am not talking about giving people sums that are similar to the ones they did before; I am talking about giving people the skill to use the basic knowledge they have in an entirely new environment. That is a difficult thing to teach. It is very demanding for the academic staff because it means a whole new way of examining people. For instance, one starts examining people with questions that do not have a single unique solution. All of us in academic life, particularly on the technological side, set questions that have one answer because it is much easier to correct an exam that has only one right answer. In the area of which I know a little — I do not wish to belabour the point but it is the only one on which I can speak with reasonable authority — if I supervise a student who has a design project, as they had this year, to design a [2242] large plant to produce monosodium glutamate, the first thing that is true is that there is not one right answer. There cannot be one right answer. There is a process of judgment about a whole lot of things in that design which would mean that there is a number of equivalent answers not one of which is necessarily uniquely correct. Our job is to make sure, not that students get some one model answer correct, but that they learn how to take intelligent decisions based on the information that is available, that they learn to think, that they learn to analyse, that they learn to reflect, that they learn to search and that they learn then to take responsibility in an organised way for making judgments about the choices they have to make, and that is a much more difficult thing to inculcate than any specific knowledge about a specific topic. That is the core, in my view, of the development of a work force that is capable and continues to be capable of responding to change and to new developments.

The other area is the question of what we are educating people for, and I will come back to this. Again this may come as a surprise as it is not the sort of thing that is associated much with me, but I think that there is an enormous emphasis still in third level education on educating or training people for employment. I would still detect, from what I know of my own students, or students within the institution within which I work, and indeed of students I know in other institutions, an overwhelming perception among those students that what they are going to look for in the short and even in the long term is a job. We are not really beginning to dig into the possibility of educating people for enterprise, to do things themselves.

I come back now to what we need for a climate of enterprise. My view of what we need for a climate of enterprise is quite different from that of some of the right wing idealogues who pass through certain sectors of education. We are not creating such a a climate. Most of our students coming out of third level institutions still see themselves as looking for [2243] jobs, and that is not a complete or adequate solution to the country's needs. In the area of education we also need to keep in mind that when we give people a technological education it is not something that closes people's minds down to all sorts of other areas of life. I get very irritated by the distinction made between academic work and applied work and the idea that somehow certain areas of academic life are more applied and some more academic. All areas of education achieve certain objectives, I, for one, would far prefer to have had the engineering training I had, because it has equipped me particularly well for many of my activities in politics, than to have had a traditional arts-based non-quantitative, descriptive but very worthwhile education.

Different areas of education can equip people for quite different things than the name of the course would suggest. The whole emphasis of an engineering course is on pragmatic approaches to problems. I have a profoud belief that problems do not necessarily have ideal solutions, but they have solutions which must have one criteria, that is that they work. I dislike the distinction between academic and applied work, as if the academic was the somehow slightly superior cerebral, wonderful, reflector, almost philosophic, side of education, and then there were the rest of us getting our hands dirty doing applied work. I do not accept the distinction. I do not believe that there is almost an implied pecking order of what is really third level or university education, and then the other little bit that is slipped in at the end which to a certain extent is marginalised. It is a matter of some regret that we have yet to see somebody from the engineering area becoming the president of a university, although we are moving in that direction.

In the area of technological education there are certain assumptions and ideas that deserve to be challenged. The first is that technology and science, engineering and applied science, are somehow magnificently detached, and are value free, [2244] that one can teach people to be engineers and scientists, giving them a pragmatic approach to the world without any idealogical baggage. The one area which comes immediately to mind where that sort of a pseudo-intellectual detachment does not work is in industrial relations. Most people who get a technological, business or commercial training will almost immediately come up against one very human problem based on perceptions of human values, and that is industrial relations. If some of the stuff coming out of certain eminent academics from the universities about trade unions for instance, represents an ideological perception which is any way widely held or widely inculcated into students at technology and business, they are in for a very severe awakening when they penetrate the real world of Irish business. People need to realise that inherited American perceptions of the role of trade unions will not work here and will only create conflict. People will have to realise that business is a community of interests. We cannot forget about difficult things like people and train engineers and technologists to make things in some sort of dehumanised industrial environment. No culture has succeeded in creating a high level of achievement and performance while ignoring the human side of industry and business. There are different solutions to the problem but no country has succeeded without taking the human side into account. Anybody who is under the illusion that our nearest neighbour has been successful in an enterprise culture which is unrelated to the people involved should have a closer look at its failure to actually produce much. The United Kingdom has not been successful as a producer of goods. It has been successful as a manipulator of money but not in terms of industrial production. Neither, in the world market, has the US been successful.

The value free technology needs to be elaborated on, because the biggest crisis that will face anybody working in the productive sector here, throughout Europe, in North America and in Japan for the next 25 years is the environmental [2245] crisis. That challenges a series of the assumptions that all of us who have been educated as engineers and technologists grew up with. It challenges the whole concept of growth, for instance, the unchallenged acceptance of growth forever which is the basis for a huge amount of technological engineering and scientific education. It may not be possible yet to say with certainty that future growth is impossible, but it is becoming quite clear that the presumption that growth can go on forever in the way it has for the last 50 years, is to fly in the face of the fact that we live in a finite world. The world does not have infinite resources, either infinite raw materials or resources, to absorb the by-products of continuing industrial growth. If China and India, for instance, were to reach the levels of consumption of the United States of America, on the present way in which the US organises itself, the world would run out of energy and the oceans would be entirely polluted. Two billion people living at American standards would devastate the world environment beyond recall. We cannot therefore educate engineers and technologists in such a way that they can somehow keep their heads down saying that they are working for their industry to produce. The social responsibility of industry, whether privately or publicly owned will be more heavily underlined as the world becomes more and more concerned about its future.

An implied ideology of the free market which does not get people used to the fact that industry will have to live under severe environmental regulation, with severe environmental assessment and with severe penalties for failure to operate within the environmental standards specified, is flying in the face of reality. People must be educated to know that they will have to live in a world of regulation and that there will never again be a sort of glorious free market in which industries can produce. They will be regulated and controlled at all levels.

A value free technology which ignores where the raw materials will come from and where the waste products will go, is [2246] not on. We may choose to ignore it but public opinion within the next ten years will insist that those in the productive sector will not be allowed to ignore it. There is no such thing as value free technology or science. The basis for a value free technology assumes certain things which are no longer acceptable. One cannot assume that there will be limitless access to all materials or to places to dispose of toxic substances. Those days are over.

Seeing that these two institutions are now becoming universities, I want it on record that people who have an elevated position in education have an obligation to operate at standards of intellectual analysis, knowledge and objectivity which reflect the ethos of those institutions. We would want to be very wary of ideology masquerading under an academic cloak, particularly the sort of ideology which gives us a model of the future based on a selective image of the US.

We have had a lot of talk from certain people in academic life which would lead us to believe that there is only one model for development. It is important to remember that within the industrial world there have been a variety of ways of achieving close to full employment, high living standards and high levels of environmental protection. Some people in academic life have presented us with an image of a failed Europe and a Gloriously successful United States. It is not true and it is less than worthy of the standards of academic excellence one is entitled to expect from eminent academics. People are entitled to expect high standards from the pre-eminent figures in university education.

Somebody mentioned that a lot of the new ideas in the NIHEs, soon to be universities, were based on American experience. America, across the political spectrum, now recognises that it has a major educational crisis on its hands, that the standards in many of its third level institutions are far from adequate, that the level of illiteracy among its industrial workforce is a matter of considerable [2247] concern, that American industrial productivity have grown slower than in Japan, in Europe or in this country, and there is a problem in the United States with industrial production, and to foolishly focus our minds on a selective image of one country when there are countries all over northern Europe which have vastly cleaner environments, higher standards of living and dramatically lower levels of unemployment than the EC, Japan or the United States is not an academic exercise but rather a political exercise. If people wish to get involved in politics, let them, but they should not dress it up under the cloak of academic objectivity.

Since we are talking about the universities we ought to address some of the deficits in current third level education. I have already referred to the fact that one of them need to develop skills that one will encourage people to be enterprising rather than to direct themselves towards employment. A second is the extraordinary neglect within third level education for our most important industry-agriculture. I find it astonishing that one cannot get a degree in farming. I am not talking about the people who advise those who work in agriculture but about those who work in agriculture and do not have a plethora of qualifications, supports, third level or further qualifications. We should have people with Ph.Ds not in agricultural science but in the business of agriculture. We should have people with primary degrees in the business of agriculture. There is a feeling that this is a mysterious dark art which can only be passed on from father to child, or from mother to child, and that we cannot conceptualise or encapsulate it within education. It is a business like any other business where a certain amount of knowledge can only be acquired through experience but for which a large body of knowledge can be acquired through training and education.

It is interesting that the most successful agricultural economy in the world, that of New Zealand, has the highest proportion of people working in farming who [2248] come from non-farming backgrounds, much higher than this country and the rest of Europe. They have a remarkably successful agricultural industry. It is time the idea that we give people a year or two years training in an agricultural college in the belief that this makes them fit to be farmers, was got rid of. We need people in the productive sectors of agriculture who are of the same academic standard as those who work in the chemical, food or any other industry. There is a need for that level of academic excellence but to date this has not been achieved.

I suggest to the Minister that if we are going to create an those of education which is based on what we need, then legal education needs to be looked at. In the area in which I have some experience, engineering, all the professional engineering institutions recognise qualifications to degree level as qualifying people to work as engineers but it is astonishing that the legal profession do not recognise any third level qualification or any degree as qualifying people to work as solicitors. They qualify a person to train as a solicitor but then they decide whether what one has done in university is good enough to let someone become a solicitor. It seems that we should either drop basic degrees in law in universities, as they are wasteful, and encourage people to go straight to the law societies, or we should regulate the way they attempt to filter out people they regard as not having attained the required standard. It is extraordinary that having got an honours degree in law one has to prove once more that they know something about law. This makes no sense. The legal profession is no more than a self-regulatory profession protecting its own interests.

All the aspirations and legal innovations in the world will not get away from the fact that third level education is hopelessly underfunded and because it is underfunded two things are going to happen. Inevitably over time standards will be diluted and reduced. The non-availability of substantial capital investment to re-equip and modernise laboratories and so on in universities will [2249] result in the dilution of standards in the longer term, and the continuing increase in the scale of fees is going to restrict further access to third level education. It will not be too long before all the doctors will be able to get their sons and daughters into medicine because they will be the only ones who will be able to pay the fees. We are moving towards that position. This is socially unjust and in many of the areas where we need the best skills it is also, in terms of our industrial development, profoundly shortsighted. It is a matter of some regret that we have moved to a position where funding for third level education is being restricted.

There are a number of other points I would like to make. A number of Senators have referred to the emphasis being placed on research. I would like to make a clear point here. If one takes a look at the OECD figures on research we will see that there is a fairly clear correlation between the level of non-military research expenditure and economic performance in those countries. It is no surprise that Sweden has one of the highest levels of non-military R and D investment as a proportion of gross national product in the world. It is no surprise either that we have one of the lowest, even though we are improving. In fairness, the Government have made some efforts to extend and develop the level of funding for research and development.

The second thing to remember is that virtually all funding for research and development is paid for by public funding as it is paid by the taxpayers by way of grants or a write-off against tax. Therefore, most research in any society is funded by the public. We cannot get away from this fact. There was a tendency, not on the part of the present Government, but on the part of the previous Government, to concentrate more and more on obtaining private funding for research and development. There is no great evidence to suggest that this approach works. Those countries which have tried to go that route have not been too successful.

It is also necessary to emphasise that [2250] research ought not just be of the applied kind. We need a good spectrum of fundamental research because it is out of fundamental research that new ideas come. They may not come immediately, it may be years before they come, but if we do not invest in fundamental research we will simply end up trying to catch up on others' innovations by applying what other people have learned. Therefore, what we need to do is encourage fundamental research, particularly in areas where we have resources, so that we may become the market leaders in some areas.

Denmark, which is about the same size as Ireland, the last time I checked, had about two thirds of the world market in specialised medical analysis equipment because they developed a skill in that area which no other country could match. Other small countries have done similar things. We cannot be good at everything and we cannot be specialists in every area, but if we do not develop a corpus of basic research in a number of areas we cannot and will not be able to develop a real industrial base.

I would now like to refer briefly to the Bill. One of the things I have to say is a matter of some embarrassment. My name is attached to amendment No. 4 but, on mature reflection, I wish to make it clear that while I put my name to the amendment some days ago I will not be supporting it. Having done some further study it is now clear to me that I would actually be opposing the guaranteed right of three students to be members of the academic council——

Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke Correct.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan ——something I do not support. My name is attached to the amendment but I want to put it on the record of the House, to my considerable embarrassment——

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke As a matter of information, which amendment is the Senator referring to?

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan Amendment No. 4.

[2251]Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke That is what would happen.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan This amendment would remove the right of students——

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke Exactly.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan ——and I want to say now before the Minister trips me up that that was an oversight on my part. I want to get in before the Minister and whatever embarrassment will be caused to me I will cause myself. Therefore I will not be supporting amendment No. 4 because of this fact alone.

Two of the amendments I wish to refer to are in the name of Senator Murphy. Amendment No. 1 reads, and I quote:

In performing its functions, the University shall bear constantly in mind the national aims of restoring the Irish language and preserving and developing the national culture, and shall endeavour to promote the attainment of those aims.

It is extremely important, in terms of what I said earlier on how we and our technologists and engineers develop this country, that we should not attempt to become a replica on a smaller scale of some other country. Part of maintaining that sense of a confident self-image of our own individualism is an assertion that what is different about us is important.

It is important not because we are better but because we are different and we have a right to be different. We are different from the island to which we are nearest and we are different from the rest of Europe and from North America. We have no desire to become like anybody else. We have a desire to develop our own way——

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke I never heard anything like that.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Hussey): Information on Thomas Hussey Zoom on Thomas Hussey That is not in order.

Mr. Fallon: Information on Sean Fallon Zoom on Sean Fallon Is it in order to talk on an amendment on Second Stage?

[2252]Acting Chairman: It is not in order. The Senator is speaking on Second Stage. I would ask him to confine his remarks to that Stage. He will get an opportunity to speak again on Committee Stage.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan I am sorry, I seem to have irritated the Minister, in particular.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke The Senator addressed himself to the amendment.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan I was simply talking about the Bill and about matters that I thought should have been included. I accept that I addressed myself to the amendment but I would have thought that on Second Stage I was entitled to explain why amendments were put down. I thought that was the normal method.

Acting Chairman: You are not entitled to develop the point.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan Perhaps I overdeveloped it. In that case, in deference to the Chair and to the Minister's obvious slight irritation with me, I shall not mention the other amendment until we come to Committee Stage.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke I always understood that amendments were for Committee Stage.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan I am not quite sure if I am being regulated by the Chair or by the Minister.

Acting Chairman: Please deal with Second Stage.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan In conclusion, the Bill is a good Bill. It serves some useful purpose. It has some defects and we can talk about those at greater length on Committee Stage. I compliment the Minister. I am sure that it was a difficult decision to take. It is a considerable act of faith in institutions to give them their independence and they have to live up to it. All the other universities will be watching their performance carefully. Their record has been a considerable one and I look [2253] forward to watching the developments over the next number of years.

Mr. Cassidy: Information on Donie Cassidy Zoom on Donie Cassidy I shall be very brief in my comments. Many aspects have been covered by previous speakers this morning in welcoming this Bill to the House. I shall be supporting it. I congratulate the Minister for bringing it before both Houses so speedily before the election period. It is a great step forward. As we all know, NIHE have provided a marvellous service and have had outstanding results over the past number of years. This is an historic day in the Seanad because not since the foundation of the State, as the Minister said, has a new university been established. We all know the importance of education.

Standing here humbly, I am the first non-university Member of the Seanad to say a few words on this Bill. As the Minister quite rightly said, the high international standards of Irish graduates is something of which we can be justifiably proud. As we enter the post-industrial, information era, the quality of education is of strategic importance here. As one who frequently travels all over the world I can definitely vouch for the recognition given to Irish students. Young people going abroad nowadays get an incredible response from industrialists and from people in the commercial world in particular. The new Irish are the most sought after of English-speaking people, as far as I know, anywhere in the world. It endorses our educational system at third level, and indeed second level.

I wish to be associated with the congratulations given to everybody concerned. I compliment the speed with which this Bill has been brought before us. A former Minister for Education, Deputy Brian Lenihan, now our Tánaiste, was mentioned in connection with the Bill. It was a tremendous thing to see the former and the present Minister, brother and sister, being involved in this legislation. It speaks highly for their foresight and vision. May I wish the Tánaiste a speedy recovery and return to the next Dáil. It is only fitting that his name should be associated with this Bill.

[2254] The Government are conscious of the clear benefits which will be derived from the enactment of this legislation. They treat this as serious legislation. I hope we shall pass this Bill today. The establishment of two new universities is a tremendous achievement. It shows great confidence in the future. As many speakers have said, including Senator Eogan, it would have been a tremendous achievement to propose one new university here today but to propose two calls for a double celebration. I congratulate the Minister and her Minister of State for bringing this Bill before us and I shall support it.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris There seems to be an unusual chorus of unanimity, which I am sure the Minister welcomes. In extending congratulations to her on introducing this Bill, let me be the first person to remark on the fact that it is most appropriate that this Minister should introduce this Bill, not merely because her distinguished brother, the Tánaiste, Deputy Brian Lenihan, to a certain extent laid the basis of this with the establishment of the NIHE both at Limerick and Dublin, but also because the Minister is a member of what I consider to be a most honourable profession. Like myself, she is a teacher. The Minister has a distinguished background and a great commitment to education.

I welcome also the fact that the heads of the two new universities were present earlier in the day. It would perhaps be useful, not just in terms of this debate but of other debates, where we have members of the general public who are particularly interested and especially distinguished with an expertise in the matter, if a committee system were developed which would permit them to place their views directly on the record of the House, which I understand and anticipate in this case would be very positive, indeed. That might be a useful departure.

I started by welcoming the Bill. In one or two of the speeches of my university colleagues, there was just the slightest tinge of territoriality. I had a feeling that [2255] they considered that the development of another university might perhaps threaten the regional interests. I should like to place on record that I do not believe that at all. I do not see myself as a Thatcherite capitalist and I am not an espouser of the free market forces, but it is observable that when you develop resources such as this, if you engender some degree of competition you stimulate an appetite rather than extinguish it. One appetite which is remarkably characteristic of the Irish people is, I am glad to say, an appetite for education. As a representative of one of the universities of Dublin, I greatly welcome this development. It is an appropriate recognition of the academic excellence of these two bodies. It is not for me to say this. It has been confirmed by a very distinguished panel of experts established by the Minister.

I wish to place on the record two letters which I possessed myself of this morning from the board of Trinity College, Dublin, the first addressed to Doctor O'Hare, President NIHE (Dublin) (University Designate) and — as of this afternoon — the university in full, Glasnevin, Dublin 9. The letter is dated 13 January 1989 and states:

Dear Dr. O'Hare,

I have great pleasure in conveying the warmest congratulations of the Board of Trinity College, recorded at its special meeting held today, to you and through you, the Governing Body, staff and students, of your new University on their achievement.

We look forward to many more years of co-operation in serving the needs of the nation and of the city and we wish you every success in meeting the challenges which face all universities at this time.

A similar letter was sent on the same date to Doctor E. Walsh, President of NIHE, Limerick, also a university designate. It states:

Dear Dr. Walsh,

I have great pleasure in conveying [2256] the warmest congratulations of the Board of Trinity College recorded at its special meeting held today, to you and through you, to the Governing Body, staff and students, of your new university on their achievement.

In common with your sister institution in Dublin, we look forward to many more years of co-operation in serving the needs of the nation and we wish you every success in meeting the challenges which face all universities at this time.

It is important to place these letters on record so that there will not be any feeling that the existing universities feel specially threatened. As a university teacher, my personal experience of both these universities, although it has been principally at the level of student rather than staff, has placed me in a position to state that they are of the very highest calibre, Particularly in regard to NIHE, Glasnevin, I have had frequent dealings with the course in journalism and communications for which I have the highest regard.

Limerick is not universally regarded, for historical reasons because of the prominence of certain attitudes and events, as the most advanced city in Ireland. However, at the same time, somewhat to my surprise, about ten or more years ago when I wrote to many of the libraries enclosing booklets and asking for their response in an area relating to a growth in understanding of the social and political impact of developments in the sciences of human sexuality, I received only three positive replies, one from the library of the Royal Dublin Society, one from a library in Howth and — the best of all — from NIHE, Limerick. That made me sit up and pay attention because they took the trouble to go through the library, to see what books they had and to write to explain that they would be grateful for information in this area. Obviously, I was suggesting books of scientific, social and political value, nothing sensational, and that institute showed a remarkably responsible attitude which I greatly welcomed. For that reason, I am particularly [2257] glad to see section 6 in the Bill concerning the Dublin City University. In the Bill concerning the University of Limerick, section 7 covers the point dealing with library facilities. It extends the Copyright Act and this is exceedingly important. I have a personal interest in it because I am chairperson of the Friends of the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. Among the most important resources for universities is the question of the provision of library facilities, and these sections in the two Bills extend the provision of the Copyright Act to the new universities of Limerick and Dublin.

However, I draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that library facilities are expensive and there is really not much point in extending the privileges of the Copyright Act to the new universities unless she is sure that adequate funding will be made available for library resources. I am not merely speaking of the administration of the library in terms of staff, seating arrangements and so on, but even the storage of books has become an increasingly expensive matter. I am taking a European perspective because I do not wish it to appear that my own university is poor-mouthing all the time. I know that sometimes the operations of Copyright Acts can be almost an embarrassment because so much is published and then there is a requirement on the universities to provide adequate storage facilities as well as adequate access to the material stored.

This is a historic moment as it is the first establishment of universities by this State. I welcome the Minister's exceedingly scholarly and fascinating survey going back to very early times about the development of universities and the university idea. I will not go through this in any extended way because it would perhaps be repetitive. Perhaps the Minister would like to have a chat about it at another stage——

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke I would love that.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris In the medieval period there was a university in Dublin. It was established at Saint Patrick's Cathedral [2258] and this fact is acknowledged to this day because Saint Patrick's Cathedral — of which I am a parishioner — is known as the Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick's. It had a university and the capacity to confer degrees. I am not quite sure how many it conferred or in what subjects, I imagine they were pretty remote from anything we are likely to experience today, but it has continued the academic tradition at second level. Over the last year or so the Taoiseach opened a very fine new grammar school associated with the cathedral which has existed since the 15th century. That is a very fine record.

I speak from within the academic community and questions in some documentation I received from briefings studies from different interest groups suggest differences in emphasis and — almost — differences in quality between different kinds of universities. This also applied to the notion about technological universities. The contribution of what was — until this afternoon — NIHE in the technical areas has been exceedingly important but I believe that both the NIHE system and the more conventional university system are approaching each other at a fairly steady rate. I do not think it would be a good idea to run away with the notion that universities like Trinity College, Dublin, and the National University of Ireland were liberal arts universities in their principal emphasis.

Universities must pay their dues to society as well as, of course, maintaining the core idea that pure learning, without any immediately discernible practical application, must be something that can be sustained. One of the areas dealt with in some length by a number of organisations, with which I have been in contact, and by Senator Brendan Ryan in his contribution in the capacity of engineer, was in regard to the engineering schools of universities. I say this with some pride because engineering has been an important element in Trinity College for a very long time. The establishment of the Chair of Engineering in that university in 1842 was among the first such chairs in the world to be established. That is a record of which this country can be proud.

[2259] I am very glad to be able to say that my university has not been at all snobbish in its approach — not just to the NIHEs but to the Dublin Institutes of Technology in Kevin Street and Bolton Street. If you look at the table of primary engineering degrees obtained in 1984, for example, you will see that University College, Dublin, conferred 169; University College, Cork, conferred 127; University College, Galway, conferred 132; Trinity College, Dublin, conferred 140; DIT conferred 210; NIHE, Dublin, conferred 27 and NIHE, Limerick, conferred 146.

However, it is the University of Dublin which confers degrees for the Dublin institutes of technology. If one takes that into account one will find that virtually one-third of the engineering degrees conferred in 1984 were conferred through the machinery of Dublin University because of the co-operation and recognition of standards by my university of the Dublin institutes of technology. It is worth making the point that there is, perhaps, less intellectual snobbery in the university system than is sometimes perceived from outside.

I am glad to note that in the document I received from the Irish Federation of University Teachers there is a certain priority, a ranking given to aspects of university life. It is interesting to me that this is echoed in the phraseology employed by the Minister. The document refers to a reasonable balance attached to teaching, research and involvement in commercial or industrial affairs. I am glad that that document, like the two Bill before the House today, mentioned first of all teaching. Tribute has been paid to research and development and that is very important. In my opinion it is important particularly in the sciences. I happen to believe that it is less important in the Arts. Sometimes, particularly with the American PhD system, there can be a substantial distortion of the proper approach to a work of art simply by virtue of the requirement for the awarding of this degree of special qualities of originality. Frequently, the these I am [2260] forced to read have more originality than the works of art upon which they are supposed to be based. There is a substantial distortion there.

As a teacher I can say that there is far too little emphasis, credit and appreciation, shown to those of us who love teaching, who enjoy teaching and who think it is at least as honourable a vocation and as efficient a method of transmitting information from one generation to another as the solitary pursuit of learning in the interests of the promotion of one's own career. I welcome the fact that the Minister has given some degree of recognition to this, as have the Irish Federation of University Teachers. I am surprised that they did give it that recognition and I suspect that it may have been accidental but, perhaps, I may be misjudging them.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole I am sure the Senator is.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Certainly, in terms of promotion within the university system almost no recognition whatever is given to the art of teaching. I regret that but there are other methods of promoting oneself, as the Minister and I are aware as teachers and politicians.

Senator Ryan mentioned his delight at having studied engineering almost, as I understood it, to the exclusion of arts. I would not denigrate engineering; I have spoken in glowing terms of it with regard to the Chair of Engineering in Trinity College, Dublin. My father was an engineer and an inventor and it would ill-behove me to denigrate that profession. However, as an undergraduate I had experience of a system which has, unfortunately, passed away. Under that system people undertaking degrees in medicine, engineering and other science subjects had to take a subsidiary course in the arts. People taking arts degrees had to take a subsidiary course in a subject with even a remotely scientific background. I benefited from that. I cheated a little because the subject I took was philosophy and there is a great area for debate as to [2261] whether philosophy is practical, metaphysical or scientific, although we did suffer the affliction of logical calculus and all the rest. In my view it is valuable to have a broad education.

In conclusion, I should like to make one or two points about the Bills. I notice that when some of my colleagues, and myself, say, “in conclusion” or “finally” we go on for about another 45 minutes.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan Zoom on Tras Honan I am glad the Senator has admitted that.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I have to. I believe in acknowledging my own weaknesses, particularly when I am allowed, while acknowledging those weaknesses, to acknowledge those of other people in a more emphasised fashion. A very important point was raised by Senator Murphy in regard to the ultimate impact of this legislation. He was perfectly correct in saying that the passing of these Bills will lead to University College, Dublin looking for an adjustment of its position within the framework of the National University of Ireland. I could not begrudge them that. With the development of three universities in Dublin it might be seen as inappropriate that University College, Dublin, a very distinguished university, should appear to be tied, in, in any sense subsidiary to some kind of national university framework. I could quite understand their sensitivities in regard to that.

I do not believe there will be any sense of territoriality on the part of Trinity College with regard to whatever developments may take place independently with UCD. Again, I have had very good experience of co-operation by being chairperson of the International Joyce Symposium on two occasions — I will be again in 1992 — and once more there will be full co-operation for the third time between Trinity College, Dublin and University College, Dublin in the international celebrations surrounding the works and life of James Joyce.

However, this raises a much more delicate question from these benches, as my colleagues Senator O'Toole and others [2262] have registered. The development of two new universities, which we all welcome, we hope will mean more rather than fewer Senators. If we have more universities surely we should make provision for more Senators.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke Hear, hear.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan Zoom on Tras Honan God forbid.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I hope the record shows that the Minister said “hear, hear”, and that the Cathaoirleach said, “God forbid”, in an uncharacteristically uncharitable aside. I am jealous of my own position and it is important that the distinctive representation of the different universities should be maintained.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke I could be elected a Senator forever by the new universities.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris That might be an excellent outcome. It would be a pity if the contribution of the university Senators was diluted. Some unfortunate adjustments were considered at the time of the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution. They envisaged a kind of mega-constituency in which six seats would continue to be up for election but the constituency would be an enormous one with about 150,000 voters. It would be worse than the elections to the European Parliament. That would make it very difficult for the differing traditions, represented by the different universities, to be properly enshrined in the Oireachtas. I say that is a totally non-sectarian fashion. It is not a question of registering a specific religious interest because we have had a complete change to the situation that existed when I was an undergraduate at Trinity when it was a protestant middle-class institution, and quite a small one. It has become an institution that really reflects for the first time the position in the country. About 80 per cent of our students and probably a majority of our staff, are from the majority tradition in the country. That is only appropriate and yet there is, perhaps because of the background, because of the ethos of Trinity [2263] which has positive and negative things about it, a detectable, slightly different atmosphere which allows room for manoeuvre. That is not always the case in the other universities. I am thinking, for example, of the development of the faculty of theology in Trinity. When I was an undergraduate basically it was a Church of Ireland divinity school. Whatever else it said it was, it was actually the Church of Ireland divinity school. It is now a faculty of theology, the head of which is a very distinguished former Roman Catholic priest. This is a very important matter.

I give the Bill a very positive welcome. Before I sit down I should like to hazard the possibility of a reproof of referring to the principle of the amendment. Like Senator Brendan Ryan, I signed it blissfully unaware, because of the speed at which events have overtaken us, of the fact that our amendment which was intended positively would make insecure the position of student representation. I take on board the fact that the Minister in her treatment of the legislation has instituted student representation on the academic council. This is an exceedingly good thing. Obviously they cannot have majority representation — that would be quite wrong — but the institutionalisation of student representation in this legislation is to be welcomed. The Minister in her speech said:

I am fully committed to the concept of student involvement in all aspects of the operation of the institutions they attend.

As a tutor in the University of Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin, I wholeheartedly concur with the Minister and I will certainly withdraw my support for that amendment. I am sure the proposer will have a lot to say on this as well——

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole Another outbreak of individualism by the individuals.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I cannot help it if this sometimes overcomes me. I should like to end with one minor hesitation which [2264] in a way is impertinent of me because it is partially on behalf of University College Dublin and I have not had an opportunity to consult with them about this. This hesitation refers to the naming of Dublin City University. Trinity College actually confers degrees as the University of Dublin. University College Dublin is another distinguished third level university. Now we are going to have the University of Dublin, University College Dublin and Dublin City University. I am sure this can all be worked out and that there is no legal complication, but I fear for the sanity of the post office sorters and those in the administration of the universities who will get mail marked DCU, U of D, UCD, or DUC. I am sure that the combinations even with three possibilities, each containing three variable letters, is infinite. I am not good at arithmetic, it was not one of my prime subjects, but I wonder if this was the happiest choice for the recognition, by name, of the excellent work done by the National Institute of Higher Education at Glasnevin. However, having said that I have to congratulate the Minister and say that I, like others, greatly welcome this legislation.

Mr. Fallon: Information on Sean Fallon Zoom on Sean Fallon I should like to welcome the Minister to the House and to congratulate her on bringing forward this legislation which proposes to confer independent university status on the National Institutes for Higher Education in Limerick and Dublin. As Senators have indicated, in the years since these institutions were established they have achieved a standing among students, parents, industry and commerce comparable with any academic institution in Ireland, or indeed overseas. This is based on the range and quality of their courses, their interaction with industry during undergraduate placements, their contacts with other similar institutions in Ireland, Europe, the UK and the United States and their very comprehensive research programmes.

The Minister referred to the very high level of competition for admission to the RTCs. I read recently that 32 per cent of [2265] first year students in the NIHEs had six or more Leaving Certificate honours. That is as fine a tribute as one could pay to any institution. The Minister also referred briefly to the role of her brother, Deputy Brian Lenihan, when he was Minister for Education. I should like also to comment on his role and vision and to make the point that his vision has proved very accurate indeed. I should like to take this opportunity, and I know he is making very steady progress, to wish him well in the future.

These new developments we are talking about here today may well have some implications for the rest of the third level sector, particularly the regional technical colleges in which I have a particular interest. The Minister was chairperson of my local regional technical college and she took a particular interest in that institution. The NIHEs have held a significant position within the NCEA award structure as the principle institution offering degrees at all levels. This gave a certain status to the NCEA qualifications and was supposed to provide an avenue whereby graduates from the RTCs could transfer to degree programmes. I understand that in many cases this proposal has not worked as well as it should. I intend to comment on this later on.

Because of the changes I have referred to, I believe there is a requirement for us to look at three areas: (1) the regional technical colleges and the Dublin Institute of Technology; (2) the links with the university system and (3) the new role of the NCEA. With regard to the first point, I believe the regional technical colleges and the Dublin Institute of Technology will be regarded as providing the second tier of third level education. We all know this is a great success but if they are to continue to provide a fine range of services in terms of new specialised short courses for industry and research and development programmes, we will have to examine their position in greater detail. They have been in existence for 20 years and I believe many of their laboratories, research facilities and instrumentation programmes may need to be updated. I am pleased also — and I am [2266] glad to note the Minister referred to this — that there will be legislation to deal with the autonomy of the RTCs, which should still retain their links with the VEC system. They may need an adequate management structure to reflect the importance of the RTCs and the DIT within the community.

The second point I referred to were the links with third level institutions. While the idea of direct transfers from the regional technical colleges to the NIHEs was good, it did not work in some cases. The level of exemptions given in some instances to certificate and diploma holders has not been satisfactory and in many cases has not matched, as I understand it, the level of exemptions given by universities both here and in the United Kingdom. This is reflected by the growing number of links which have developed between the regional technical colleges and universities and polytechnics in England and the very successful transfer arrangements which have been developed by them. This is food for thought and something we might consider in the future.

My third point referred to the role of the NCEA. The Minister referred to this in her speech and paid credit, and rightly so, to the NCEA and their awards at all levels of certificates, diplomas and degrees. However, I wonder if there is now a need to re-evaluate the role of the NCEA. At present it has both an accreditation and award responsibility. Our colleges have matured and developed over the years and there is now no need for the same level of supervision by the NCEA. I would be of the opinion that in the future they may well have an accreditation role only, with the colleges evaluating their courses and appointing their own external examiners. Indeed, if one examines that prospect somewhat further one may well discover that that could be done with some saving in costs to the various institutions. Perhaps the legislation referred to could be taken on board as part of that legislative process.

I should like to congratulate the [2267] National Institutes of Higher Education on their fine achievements and wish them well in their new role. At the same time I would hope we would be able to give the regional technical colleges — dear to the Minister's heart — extra help in the years ahead.

In an amendment mentioned by Senator Norris there is representation on the part of the student body. I can say positively that what the Minister is doing here is totally consistent with what she has advocated over the years. At one stage, as chairperson of the Westmeath VEC, the Minister was responsible for implementing observer status for students attending the RTC in Athlone. Therefore, it will be clearly seen that the introduction of these two Bills is consistent with her thoughts over the years. From my experience of student representation, when I had the honour of being a member of the Governing Body of UCD for six years, I can say that student representation on that board worked very well indeed.

While the provision of these Bills represent amending legislation, they are very welcome indeed. It is my opinion that they will further serve to emphasise to the world the enormous importance this country attaches to excellence of learning and will fully highlight the importance and capability of our educational sector.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole As the final contributor to this debate, much of what I wanted to say has already been said. However, I want to be associated with all the congratulatory remarks in regard to the various interest groups involved. My endorsement of those remarks can be taken as read because I understand the Minister is somewhat constrained by time. It would be important to put on the record of the House the vigilance, concern, interest and welcome by the Irish Federation of University Teachers to this development and their input. They appear to represent a group forgotten in the course of the discussion here earlier [2268] and in the various expressions of congratulations.

The introduction of these two Bills represents a critical step forward, a merging of the old and the new, of the traditional and the modern, of the classical and technological, in what I consider to constitute the most exciting development to date in Irish education. While it is a development that has taken place at third level, it impinges on education at all levels. In so saying I want to deal with its effect on the community at large. I was very much taken by the amendments to these Bills in the Dáil whereby trade union and educational interests were added to the provisions of particular sections. It is more than important that that type of recognition or representation be accorded in the establishment of a university. I have criticised colleges and universities as they have pertained to date, as having been totally remote from the community they were meant to serve. Therefore I welcome the amendment of the Principal Act by the substitution of the following paragraph in section 3 which reads:

... the pursuit of learning and the advancement of knowledge through teaching, research and collaboration with educational, business, professional, trade union, cultural and other bodies ...

which represents a magnificant step forward. I want to state quite clearly that the Minister should be credited with accepting that amendment in the Dáil because it is a progressive move and I welcome it as such. As somebody who frequently has been critical of the Minister, I give her credit where such is due.

About an hour ago I was sitting listening to this debate in my office. I am sorry Senator Cassidy is not present to defend himself because I always cringe when I hear people say: business people worldwide have tremendous respect for the high standards obtaining in Irish colleges. This development or initiative has arisen precisely because the business community in this country reneged on their responsibility to the community at large. I will develop that argument at some [2269] length. What we are seeing take place today is a merging of the old, pure science with new, applied science — the old, pure science by which people pursued knowledge, which approach was considered to be the pinnacle.

We established the regional technical colleges some years go with the idea of taking what people had learned by way of pure science, apply it and, in so doing, develop technology. We were forced to do so on account of the lack of investment on the part of the business and manufacturing community here in research and development. What we are witnessing here today — which is to their credit — is the educational sector filling the vacuum created by the abysmal performance on the part of the business sector here. I do not want to make a large political point out of this but I do feel people should recognise that fact. That can be ascertained from a cursory glance at the amount we spend in this country, in manufacturing industry, on research and development. Not alone are we the worst in the European league but we are £50 per cent worse than the next in the overall league.

What we are witnessing here today is a proper bridge between education and work. When I hear people speak at management conferences and the like about creating a bridge between school and work, closing the gap between education and the jobs market I become extremely annoyed. Such people never advert to the fact that such constitutes half the jump only. The jump from education in order to prepare students for jobs and job creation warrants further investigation at the manufacturing level, further research and development in order to create additional jobs, again to which the educational sector can respond, and so the vicious circle continues. Unfortunately, the business community here seek to have the educational sector subservient to their needs without at all recognising their responsibility in that area. I should like to develop that argument at some length. I recognise the time constraints on the Minister and shall refrain from so [2270] doing. However, it is an important point to be made.

I might make another point about degrees and qualifications vis-á-vis the National Institutes of Higher Education over the past ten years. It has been to their credit that students leaving their colleges and their qualifications have been widely accepted. I have never heard any comment about the qualifications or degrees from the National Institutes of Higher Education other than to the effect that they were excellent. However, I would advocate that the cost should be borne in mind. This may be striking a somewhat negative note. I recognise the pressures placed on the authorities in both colleges over the past ten years in making their names. However, the cost has meant intense pressure having been placed on their teaching and lecturing staff in order to maintain a very high, perhaps an artificially high standard.

In an informal discussion I had with the Minister last year I brought to her attention the fact that I was concerned at the huge drop-out rate, when I informed her that many excellent students were not attaining the standard demanded of them by the National Institutes of Higher Education. It is my belief that that was done in an attempt to create a very high standard, placing those institutes beyond any shred of negative or critical comment. I contend they did not need to do so, that nobody had anything but the height of respect for anything they had done. However, it has to be said that there have been casualties over the past six or seven years, which is regrettable. In fact I have met some good people who have been casualties. I do not know the Limerick institute that well. I have visited the National Institute of Higher Education — that is the last time I shall refer to it as such — in Glasnevin on a number of occasions and was most impressed by everything I saw there. It would be my hope that we can now relax somewhat, allowing students enjoy their studies there. That is another reason I too welcome student representation. I will explain my position in that respect more clearly on the relevant amendment.

[2271] I have said it is not just a community of scholars directed towards knowledge and truth: a university must be more than that, it must be relevant. We have seen that here today. We have seen a new institution in the ancient context of learning as outlined at some length and in great detail by the Minister this morning. I will not try to go through those points at present. It is important that we recognise — as Senator Murphy said this morning — that there are not two kinds of universities. My hope is that both the traditional university and the new university we are setting up will become closer over the years in terms of how they operate.

I welcome the new development today for another reason. It has put pressure and has created a new climate for the traditional colleges. That is important. We have a tradition in this House not to mention the absence of people, but I must say I was less than impressed by the lack of representation from NUI both here today and in the Dáil last week. I thought the welcome might be a little more effervescent to say the least. I represent the NUI and I will be bringing that to their attention. I feel somewhat embarrassed by that fact. It also worries me that a special meeting of the Senate of the NUI was called simply to consider the impact of these colleges on the existing colleges. What impact? It creates more learning. It creates more involvement. It is new, it is bubbly, it is progress and it is to be welcomed for those reasons.

I am the only person being in any way negative but I am trying desperately to balance the debate. I have difficulty with certain items in terms of the control by the Minister of appointments, particularly the appointments to influential positions within the colleges, which she still retains. I do not think that is right. This type of academic institution should have total discretion over staffing arrangments. I think the Minister should have discretion over the financial arrangements and the amount of money [2272] made available. As an elected public representative I think it is right that the State should hold the purse strings but the discretion to make appointments should be purely within the power of the governing body. I feel very strongly about that and I will be developing it when we come to the amendments.

I also want to make mention of two other points. The Minister mentioned the need for academic interaction — I cannot remember the precise phrase — between the colleges being set up today, the new universities, and other places abroad. I have outlined my views at length in other areas, including the Finance Bill, that we need to have educationalists working in another environment, being subject to other systems, swapping ideas, meeting different students and subjecting themselves to different pressures, needs and demands. That is vitally important. I know the Minister is supportive of this idea but we have not actually done it. I do not see teachers moving to France for a year and somebody else coming back and replacing them here. I know this has gone through the European Parliament and that there is agreement in principle in the Council of Ministers, but it has not actually happened. Why do we not just do it? Why can we not organise it? I could organise two exchanges next month if the Minister would approve them and then let somebody else find out why. Let us do a Donagh O'Malley on it — let us agree to do it and let somebody else work out the details afterwards.

I feel that the words in the speech about the need for academic interaction were aspirational. In terms of referring to academic interaction I have noted that NIHE Limerick — as it still is, I must get the terminology right — has academic links with the Ben Gurion University in Tel Aviv. That raises certain worries for people like myself — not that I should be worried in any sense — but I always wonder where one makes the first contact and if that reflects any particular kind of thinking. I am telling myself that it does not.

Because there is this academic connection with the Ben Gurion University [2273] in Tel Aviv, may I say that that type of interaction could be harnessed, utilised and directed to influence the opening of those universities in the occupied territories very close to Tel Aviv which are closed at present. That kind of development would be very useful. I hope we would use our missionary zeal — as we have done over the years — to get positive developments, even politically, from this academic interaction. I have endeavoured to outline from the beginning of my short contribution that we must harness academe to represent the rest of us in political terms. I would ask the authorities in Limerick to consider using their influence to exert some pressure on the appropriate authorities for reopening those third level academic institutions which are closed at present in the occupied territories close to Tel Aviv.

The final point I should like to raise — and it is one that has been raised by all the University Senators on the broad general question of how it affects ourselves — is the representation in this beautiful building which we are all threatened with leaving at present. In this beautiful building we have representatives from the universities. I would like to ask the Minister a question. In the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution we changed the representation. The representation now is “the universities mentioned above”— the NUI and Trinity —“and also any other institutions of higher education in the State”. I have been pondering for months and months what exactly that means. Does it mean that subsection (1) relates to the universities and that the next subsection relates to other institutions? If it does, that would effectively rule out representation from the new universities, which we are creating today, and that would be nothing less than tragic.

The Minister can read the language the same as I can, but I think it can be read another way —“the universities mentioned above and any other”— as opposed to “universities and any other”. Whichever way it is, I want a clear commitment from the Minister that if the interpretation of that new amendment [2274] should deprive graduates of the new universities from having a vote in the election of University Senators then, I think, the Constitution should be amended.

I spent some years reading through rules and the like — you, a Chathaoirligh, know my interest in Standing Orders and so on. I read language to see how it is interpreted. The Minister will understand that this is a real concern. The context in which that amendment was made worries me, more so because it was made precisely in order to allow the extension of the franchise to other third level institutions. They did not, at that stage, envisage other universities. I am a little worried about that. The Minister can do no more than give a clear commitment that if somebody foolishly interprets that as saying that we cannot extend the franchise to the graduates of the new universities, then we should change the Constitution. There are many other third level graduates over the years who have not participated in the voting or the franchise for this House. I would mention every national teacher who qualified through the third level colleges until 1974 — those people who have no say in the election to this House.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole I care that they would all have votes, particularly in the election to this House. You and I know their contribution to the fabric of Irish life. I know you have always supported me on that particular point despite any other differences we might have.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan Zoom on Tras Honan It is about the only thing we agree on.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole Do you agree that the national teachers of Ireland have given more than any other group, including politicians? Perhaps the Minister will respond to that. I should like to make a final point. It has often been represented to me that the university constituency is highly élitist. Indeed, the Leader of the House said the same to me — I thought [2275] very detrimentally — on live radio yesterday when he mentioned the six seats at the back of the House. We know the reason is that this is the only panel to which independent people can be elected. In this House, six people are elected by the universities — one tenth of the membership of the House and this figure traditionally represents the percentage going through third level. In that sense it is the appropriate level of representation. However, it is still highly élitist and those of us elected through that élitist system seek to represent those who do not have a voice in that franchise. The reason I indulge myself on this point is that the third level institutions are blossoming and I ask that not only should the franchise be extended to the new universities but beyond to the other third level institutions. I would also ask that the Government would take in hand the possibility of amending the Constitution to create more seats for people elected through that system.

Many people were credited with the genesis of these institutions which we see today. Mention was made of Seán O'Connor and Seán MacGearailt and I would like to put on record that these were two Dingle man — like myself. This initiative was started by two natives of Dingle and it is appropriate that I, another native of Dingle, should be the final speaker on Second Stage.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke There is a little daftness in all of you.

Mr. J. Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole I have an interest in closing circles. All in all it has been a Munster initiative with the succeeding secretaries of the Department of Education, not forgetting the present secretary who is from County Meath.

This is welcome legislation I am sorry that I have not had more time to develop some of my thoughts. It seems a bit disjointed — I had to hop from point to point, but I mentioned most of the important points. I know the Minister is anxious to leave, so I will conclude on that note.

[2276]Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke I am glad to have the opportunity to reply to the various points that were brought up in the course of the very stimulating Second Stage debate. I do not wish to patronise anybody but I found the contributions — those that I was present for, and I apologise to those whose contributions I had to miss because of the pressure of business — enormously interesting, and wide ranging. It was an interesting day to be present in the Seanad.

Senator Manning welcomed the legislation and paid tribute to the various people involved. He called it a “lazy Bill”, but I would have to take issue with that statement. However I do not intend to go on taking issue because it is too fine a day and there is lots of work to be done outside on the streets.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole It is a bit of relaxation.

Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke Indeed, it is not. His party could take a leaf out of our book with the expeditious handling of the matter between the announcement and the production of the Bill. Senator Manning appealed for rationalisation — which was very welcome to my ears — and spoke about empire building in the universtities. I was fascinated by what he had to say and felt the was speaking in a populist way seeing that he is on the populist hustings as distinct from other types of hustings. Be that as it may, I hope that I, or the person who comes after me with plans to knock the empire building and to rationalise the various facilities on offer at third level, will find Senator Maurice Manning, regardless of what hat he is wearing, just as receptive, as open hearted and as liberal as he was today, but I doubt it. Senator Manning spoke about the NUI and referred to the fact that they demand change, but that has not been my experience, and I will say no more than that. When we spoke about the need to abolish the matriculation examination, they did not see the point of this at all.

I wish Senator Maurice Manning well. [2277] He is an old friend and I hope all will go well for him.

Senator Bromell welcomed the Bill in a very warm and intimate way. He is from Limerick and has a very close association with the quest for a university for Limerick. He made the history very relevant because he spoke of it in a domestic way as distinct from the broader sweep of history. He referred to the people in Limerick he knew intimately and what they had done to bring this quest to its conclusion. I thank him for his contribution.

I thank Senator Murphy for his kind comments on the historical aspects of my script. I very much enjoyed doing it and I am glad that it found an echo in the House. He chided me gently about the omission of St. Finbarr's in Cork. I regret its omission and I hope he will take it now as said. Senator Murphy also referred to various other ecclesiastical influences and he is quite right to bring forward what he likes in the debate. Senator Murphy saw that the legislation would bring the winds of change to the NUI. He saw the legislation as an item in itself — which it is — but the follow through would be that the NUI would have to reactivate themselves and come forward with ideas, and they would be forced to do so whether they wanted to or not. I see it very much as that. I have said on several occasions publicly that I want the NUI to come forward with their ideas, and then they should clarify them. It is all very fine for Senator Manning to go on and on, but it is another day's work when you seek to force changes upon institutions which do not want them. As Senator Murphy has quite rightly said, there is no need to go on the defensive as there is close co-operation, and that should be encouraged. Perhaps the winds of change will blow ever stronger.

Senator Lydon welcomed this legislation and entered a small reservation about the name of the new university, but said he would not quibble with it. Senator Kennedy, a Limerick man, welcomed the legislation and outlined the history of the project. He felt that the two directors of the NIHEs were inspired choices. He also referred to the Plassey [2278] Technological Park which is very important to NIHE, Limerick. He paid tribute to Deputy Gemma Hussey for setting up the international study group to examine the feasibility of conferring university status on NIHEs. Indeed, I pay tribute to her for having so done and to Deputy Cooney for having received the report. I am very glad it was my turn — no matter what happens from here on in to have the legislation enacted. Senator Kennedy said that the new universities will convey an international reputation on Dublin and Limerick, and indeed they will. I regret that I missed the contributions of both Senators Kennedy and Eogan, but very detailed notes were taken for me and I wish to recognise their contributions.

Senator Eogan spoke about the innovations in education since the sixties. He said that an Act of the Oireachtas may create a university but that it is the people involved, the teacher and students, who create its status. We want the growth of subject areas to meet Newman's idea of a university — that is, places of universal learning. Senator Eogan was critical of the standing given to the humanities and hoped that the HEA and the new universities will take cognizance of this. He felt that the broad cultural aspect was missing and that they would need contact between the technological and cultural traditions of a university. He said that a large number of universities were established in the past 30 years and that perhaps some of them are in need of refurbishment. He said universities need financial stability and they must ensure the bulk of the necessary funding will come from the State. Senator Eogan was glad the Bill gives research its rightful place as it is central to development.

I take this opportunity to correct Senator Eogan and others who fear that the new universities will not be independent when appointing staff and that they would be subject to ministerial approval. They also felt that the State should not have a say in who is the best person for a particular job. That is a misconception which was in the legislation when it was introduced in the Dáil and which I was at pains to correct then. [2279] It is not true. What the Minister does is set out the number of appointments rather than who gets the position. As the House knows, the Minister has no responsibility for appointing a particular person to a particular job.

Senator Eogan said it is vital to ensure the continued acceptability of the NCEA as an awarding institution and said the new universities would be of major benefit to the country. There was a particularly warm reference from Senator Eogan — I was not here but it was reported to me — to the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. In the lean and very hungry years of the early forties when life was very rigorous and very difficult, a gleam of learning, culture and hope for academic knowledge of the future was struck by Eamon de Valera when he introduced in this House the legislation to establish the DIAS and it has remained a beacon ever since.

Senator Ryan spoke at length. I was here for about half his contribution and, as always, he spoke in a broad sweep. He said that sometimes established universities can have an inflated notion of their own importance, that they must learn to live with the outside world and the outside world must learn to live with them. He questioned the need to have “University” in the title. That is one of the points of the legislation. He said the excellence of these institutions is already well recognised. He made a plea for funding, particularly in a replacement way, for laboratories or parts of the university which have become run down over the years through usage. He said that due to developments in technology and science, they need to be upgraded all the time. In the national plan we have taken cognisance of some of the matters relating to that. Lest it would go unremarked, we were slightly castigating him because he spoke at great length on the amendments. I apologise because it was not my role to do so. In your absence, a Chathaoirligh, we were out of control a little but all ended well.

Senator Donie Cassidy from my own constituency welcomed the Bill and I [2280] thank him for that. I also thank Senator David Norris for his kind remarks, particularly with regard to those engaged in the teaching profession. I have been at pains, in the two years and three months I have been Minister for Education, on all occasions to pay tribute to teachers at whatever level of teaching they are engaged in. What happened in the UK should never be allowed happen here. Unfortunately, in that country people in “places of importance” seek constantly to denigrate the role of a teacher and, in so doing, influence how the community view teachers.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole That is why we need teachers in public life to represent the opposite point of view.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke That is right. I have never ceased to say that if one was to labour in the Dáil or the Seanad from morning till night one would never feel as physically or mentally exhausted as one would from a day's teaching. It is a constant giving of oneself in an intimate way to a child or an adult, at whatever level one is teaching. It is absolutely absorbing and enthralling when you like your work but absolutely exhausting and draining as well. I thank the Senator for his open recognition of that. We should never lose that recognition. The status of a teacher, lecturer or professor within a community is of enormous importance to how a community view schools, places of learning, third level institutions or whatever. The value which one has on the transmission of learning and the status of teachers must be constantly stated.

I also want to place on record my personal thanks and that of the Department of Education for the generous letters Senator Norris read out to us today from the Provost in Trinity College and from the board to the future presidents of the institutions, Ed Walsh and Danny O'Hare, welcoming them to the fold in a very full sense. The letters as read out, will go down as quite historical documents. The Senator chided me gently again for leaving out St. Patrick's Cathedral which was a collegiate church [2281] and has reverted into a seat of learning, albeit at second level. Indeed I am glad to recognise it as that and to also recognise that at quite an early stage Trinity established third level links with other institutions, showing that it is egalitarian in every sense of the word. Senator Norris was concerned as to whether all the letters would get to where they were supposed to be going — to UCD, DCU, Trinity College and so on. If they are being sent to the new Dublin City University they should be addressed to Danny O'Hare.

In regard to the balanced role of humanities and technology, that has always been the quest, particularly now with new technology. In older times it was a question of pure science and applied science and so on. It has always been the aim of universities that they would give a balanced education and that they would offer a broad range of subjects to students. There have been debates throughout the centuries about humanities versus the science and now humanities versus technology and so on. I think a very correct mix has been obtained in all of our institutions, varying slightly according to their culture and their traditions, how they have developed and what they have done for their various “constituents” and the various communities they serve. The old tenet holds — it is one which I hold anyway — that to be technologically educated you must first of all be educated in humanities and the arts because you cannot master what would be new formulae unless you have been first of all educated in the old formulae. It is the old formulae which lay the base for the broadening out to specific vocational areas. That is an old educational tenet but it is no harm to put it on the record. The balance is what matters. Senator Norris said there is no tendency within his university to — I do not know if this is a word — territorialise, to have enclaves built around, any particular institution. I certainly have not discerned the saying “thus far can you go and no further”.

Senator Seán Fallon from my own constituency welcomed the Bill and I thank [2282] him for that. He spoke warmly of the original idea and said that we should maintain the links with the RTCs, which have been in existence for 20 years, and other third level institutions. That is something he and I would have come across down the years at VEC committees. He spoke of the roles of the NCEA and the accreditation system. That is something that will be looked at. The NCEA have very positive ideas about their future. They are going to develop themselves in innovative ways and they have ideas on that. I have met them on several occasions and I hope to pursue that matter with them.

Senator Joe O'Toole welcomed the legislation and spoke of IFUT's involvement in it and their long traditional role in universities. He said that their interests should be enshrined in this legislation. He spoke of its effect on the wider community and particularly on trade unions and welcomed the amendment put down in the Dáil, which has now been incorporated into the legislation. He castigated a previous speaker——

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole Corrected rather than castigated.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke ——for what he saw as a blinkered view of the matter. He had the aspiration that, having now established themselves as excellent in every way, the two new universities would perhaps lower the pace a little. I am encapsulating what he said in a few words but that is a matter for debate. I was struck very much by a phrase which Senator O'Toole used — he called the universities new institutions in an ancient context. That is exactly what they are. It was a very broad, generous remark. As was said, somehow last week in the Dáil a slightly ungenerous note was beginning to creep into some of the contributions. I regretted it. I sought to put the whole debate on a consensus footing when I began my speech in the Dáil but there were some slightly ungenerous comments. I welcome the fact that here the welcome has been warm and the points put forward have been very constructive. [2283] There has been no evidence whatever of “preciousness”, of a feeling of territory, of “thus far can you go”. That is very proper and is an indication of the constructive role of this Chamber.

Let me say, and I know the House will share my views, that people who say there should be no Seanad and who castigate the work of the Seanad and of Senators should read some of the debates. That has been instructive for me. I know from my days here how much I enjoyed the debates and how much the Seanad contributed to the overall tone of legislation and influenced it by amendment. That is only one small part of it. There is also the general thrust of debate here. It is enormously broad and much less partisan than in the more heated political atmosphere of the Dáil Chamber. To those who would have in their manifestos — or had until they changed their colours — that there should be no Seanad I say that life is not all utilitarian. It needs the broad sweep of comment, it needs the reflective note and voice to be sounded so that people who might be caught up in the hurly-burly of life, as we all are, have time to absorb what is said. That is my defence of the Seanad Chamber.

Mr. Fallon: Information on Sean Fallon Zoom on Sean Fallon Hear, hear.

Professor Murphy: Information on John A Murphy Zoom on John A Murphy I hope the Minister is well reported.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke That is up to another group of professionals. There is the interaction which Senator Joe O'Toole wanted between here and abroad. I dare say ERASMUS and LINGUA will have their way and I hope teacher exchanges will come from it. That is the translation of our missionary zeal of long ago into the present.

Several of the university Senators, naturally, spoke about where they are going with regard to all this representation, how many seats there should be and how they should be divided out. Senator O'Toole said that as a person from Dingle he was glad to be the last speaker on this [2284] legislation and it was Dingle people who early on had the genesis of this idea. I made a light remark when he was speaking and I hope it will not be taken amiss. I say there is a little bit of daftness in all the Dingle people but it is a nice type of that angle——

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole That will not be going into the manifesto, I am sure.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke ——but let me say it was the prosaic midlands that produced the legislation.

Mr. Fallon: Information on Sean Fallon Zoom on Sean Fallon Hear, hear.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke We might not have the mountains and the valleys but we have lots of other qualities. I want to reply in a definite way to the Seanad representation matter because I recognise it is of interest to everybody. At present three Members of the Seanad are elected by the National University of Ireland and the University of Dublin, as Senators know. Under the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution of 1979 provision may be made by law for the election of a total of six Members of Seanad Éireann by one or more of the following institutions, and the members may be elected by institutions grouped together or by a single institution: (i) The two universities which at present elect Members to the Seanad and (ii) any other institutions of higher education in the State.

The purpose of the constitutional amendment was to allow elections to the Seanad in the context of any future university or higher education reorganisation that might take place. These Bills before us do not affect the issue. Since under the Constitution at present provision could be made by law for the election of a Member or Members to the Seanad by any institution of higher education in the State, representation in the Seanad for the proposed new universities or for any other institution of higher education is a wide question that would need full consideration, and the necessary legislation, since it relates to [2285] an electoral issue, would be a matter, therefore, for the Minister for the Environment because all electoral issues are open to him.

On a final note, to go back to something Senator Murphy and Senator Norris said, this legislation really is only the beginning. It is minimal legislation to enable the functions and the duties laid out at the beginning of my speech to happen. I hope it will presage, because it has the potential to so do, a much broader and wider debate not alone on the whole universities legislation but on the whole third level area of activity, leading on to further university legislation. As I mentioned, we have the colleges Bill coming in the autumn dealing with this and the RTCs. I think we can take it that it is a very successful launching pad for that. Let me again thank all the Members for their very interesting, entertaining and most enthusiastic responses to Second Stage of the Bill.

Before we start on the amendments, I would be less than correct if I did not place the matter in context for the Senators who have put down amendments and say that I welcome the fact that they have been doing their homework. As we all know, when a Bill has been passed by the Dáil it is sent to the Senand requesting its agreement to the passing of the Bill into law. Should amendments be made to a Bill in the Seanad, the Bill has to be sent back to the Dáil and then the Dáil in Committee considers the amendments. The problem is, therefore, that the acceptance of any amendments by the Seanad, however innocuous, welcome and wanted, would delay the Bill; in fact, it would not get through for this year's graduates. I feel I should put that on record.

Professor Murphy: Information on John A Murphy Zoom on John A Murphy On a point of order, I think the Minister is pre-empting Committee Stage——

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke That is all right. I just wanted to say it.

Professor Murphy: Information on John A Murphy Zoom on John A Murphy ——and the implication of what she is saying is that it puts pressure on us to withdraw the amendments. I simply do not accept that.

[2286]Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke I am just putting them in context. That is all.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole On a point of order, please give me guidance on one matter. If an amendment is made today, is brought back to the Dáil on 29 June, is passed by the Dáil, goes through this House and is signed on 29 June, does that also allow the colleges in this year? Is that true? I am just putting the point.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke If the Senator wishes me to respond, 29 June I think would not be the day on which they would be amending legislation taken from the Seanad. There would be other items on the agenda that day.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole Zoom on Joe John O'Toole We are just indicating the possibilities.

Question put and agreed to.

Agreed to take Committee Stage today.


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